Eurostar unveils surreal pan-European TV ad starring Jarvis Cocker

Eurostar: unveils latest ad starring Jarvis Cocker
Eurostar: unveils latest ad starring Jarvis Cocker

Eurostar will broadcast its first pan-European TV advertising campaign during ' The X Factor' on ITV on Saturday night (1 October).

The ad, titled 'Trainstorming' and including the new strapline "Opening the way", features English dialogue with French subtitles for its debut on French and Belgian TV channels today.

It focuses on the London 2012 Olympics as Eurostar, a Tier 3 Olympics sponsor, seeks to position the brand as multinational in its expansion beyond its core markets of France, the UK and Belgium.

Eurostar had promised "a change in direction" with this campaign and the animated ad, created by Paris-based agency Leg, features three artists – British musician Jarvis Cocker, French film director Michel Gondry and Belgian popstar Arno Hintjens, imagining what the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics may look like.

The Olympics stadium of their imagination is depicted in Roman gladiatorial style, with the three artists travelling from this imagined stadium to London in an Armada-style fleet of ships (see review, below).

Eurostar's director of sales and marketing in France, Lionel Benbasset, said the choice of English was a practical one.

Benbasset, talking to Marketing before the ad's preview in Paris last night, said: "English is the European language, in the sense that this is the most common language [in Europe] and is the language of business.

"All of us in Eurostar believe ad is a synthesis of our positioning on the Continent. We chose these personalities – iconic in their own countries – because their pioneering spirit reflects that of Eurostar."

Benbasset is due to take over the job of overall marketing chief of Eurostar in January 2012, at the helm of a new central marketing team.

Emma Harris, currently Eurostar's sales and marketing director in the UK, will leave the company after 10 years but will remain until January to manage the search for Eurostar's new agency roster.

Harris told Marketing that she has "a number of irons in the fire" which she intends to explore when she leaves.

She said: "Most of the work that I have been leading over the last couple of years has been repositioning the brand and understanding why consumers will continue to use Eurostar when there are other rail services going alongside us.

"'Opening the way' is a long-term strategy that is about the role that Eurostar has in people's lives. It is about encouraging the curious mindset of wanting do new things, meet new people, try new food, see new art, and it’s all on your doorstep because of Eurostar."


Simon S Kershaw, creative consultant and writer of the weekly 'Creative Strategy' column for Brand Republic

"Epic" is not an easy gig. Ask the people behind the uber-flop 'Troy', now gathering dust on the shelves of HMV. But epic with charm? That's even harder.

So, raise a glass and tip a beret to the makers of the new Eurostar commercial. Magically, it combines our own living, breathing future-national-treasure Jarvis Cocker with some dudes from Le Continent letting their imaginations rip. As happens when you're whizzing along on Eurostar.

"Opening the way" is the new line and neatly sums up both the practical benefits of the train (who would fly to Paris?) and the sense that cultures can mix and mingle in limitless ways. This is a mature, ambitious piece of work that takes the Eurostar brand to a new level. Bon voyage.


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